In the hybrid vehicle patent war between hybrid technology company Paice LLC (Paice) and Toyota Motor Corp. (Toyota), Paice has withdrawn from one front after the parties reached a very limited truce.
Specifically, Paice agreed to a covenant not to assert U.S. Patent No. 5,343,970 (’970 patent) against the Lexus GS450h and the Lexus LS600h and recently filed a Second Amended Complaint (paice-amended-complaint.pdf) in a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas dropping allegations that the two Lexus models infringe the ’970 patent.
The suit, which Paice originally filed in July of 2007, now alleges that the Toyota Camry hybrid infringes the ’970 patent and that the second generation Prius, the Highlander SUV, the Lexus RX400h SUV, the Camry hybrid and the two other Lexus models infringe the ’970 patent as well as U.S. Patent Nos. 7,104,347 and 7,237,634.
The ’970 patent is directed to a hybrid drive train that uses a microprocessor (48) and a controllable torque transfer unit (28) that accepts torque input from both an internal combustion engine (40) and an electric motor (20).
The microprocessor (48) controls the amount of torque provided by the internal combustion engine (40) and the electric motor (20) by locking or releasing a bevel gear assembly (not shown) and holding torque inputs constant.
Paice and Toyota have an ongoing history of litigation over Paice’s hybrid vehicle patents. In the fall of 2007, the Federal Circuit affirmed a jury verdict that the Prius, Highlander and Lexus SUV infringed two claims of the ’970 patent under the doctrine of equivalents.
In that case Paice was awarded about $4.3 million in past damages and an ongoing royalty of $98 per infringing vehicle sold. Paice later sued Toyota again, asserting that the Highlander and Lexus SUV infringed U.S. Patent No. 7,392,871.